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Coronavirus Read: The Overstory

A few members of our time have read The Overstory by Richard Powers, and the consensus is that it is a very good read. A story about trees, forests, deforestation, movement organizing, and the question of whether real change is possible, this book is worth the trees it was printed on (or the fuel burned to power your e-reading device). The many characters that carry on the story lead disparate, believable and fascinating lives that intersect in unexpected (and sometimes unseen) ways, overcoming personal, professional, and political stumbling blocks. No matter what your life story, the odds are good you will identify with at least one of the dreamers, doers, do-gooders, and ne'er do-wells that star in The Overstory.

It would be hard to avoid learning something about trees, planets, law, history, psychology, war, science, organizing, geography, the national forest service, or mycology in the pages. And most of what you'll read corresponds to real institutions, actions, and heroes, even if in fictitious ways. Despite the deep realism, significant number of characters, and astounding quantity of facts included in the book, it is an excellent and compelling page turner. Perhaps this is because each of the characters, no matter how boring their answer to the time-honored question "And what do you do?" has a powerful character development arc, just as we all do.

Read more in The Atlantic review here, and if you read it, savor the descriptions of the big trees of the west. I found myself ending the novel with an ache for an impossible (in the time of coronavirus) road trip, but perhaps with enough forwarning, the book can be the road trip for you.

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